Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Conversion—The Ultimate Reality Check
I often think that the ideal of our perfection that we set up, and often go through torture to achieve, may not be God's idea of how He wants us to be at all. That may be something quite different that we never would have thought of, and what seems like a failure to us may really be something bringing us closer to His will for us.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Christ asks for a home in your soul, where he can be at rest with you, where he can talk easily to you, where you and he, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
A Born Again Experience
I used to regard it as extremely difficult and demanding to do what God's mercy was suggesting to me. I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe I could possibly be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices and to indulge my sins .... But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of my former life was washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, was infused into my reconciled heart ... a second birth restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner every doubt began to fade.... I clearly understood that what had first lived within me, enslaved by the vices of the flesh, was earthly and that what, instead, the Holy Spirit had wrought within me was divine and heavenly. (Ad Donatum 3-4)
Friday, April 13, 2018
Why Humility Is Important
Humility, which gives preference to others, is not very popular today principally because men have forgotten the Greatness of God. By expanding our puny little self to the Infinite, we have made the true Infinity of God seem trivial. The less knowledge we have of anything, the less significant it seems. Our hatred of a person often decreases as we learn to know him better. A boy graduating from high school is generally not as humble as when he graduates from medical school. At eighteen he thought he knew it all; at twenty-eight he feels himself ignorant in the face of the medical science he has yet to acquire. So it is with God. Because we do not pray or contemplate or love Him, we become vain and proud; but when we know Him better, we feel a deep sense of dependence which tempers our false independence. Pride is the child of ignorance, humility the offspring of knowledge.
Proud people think themselves to be better than they are, and when criticized always believe their neighbor is jealous or has a grudge against them. The humble know themselves as they really are, for they judge themselves as they judge time, by a standard outside themselves, namely, God and His Moral Law. The psychological reason for the modern fondness for news which deflates others or which brings out the evil in their lives, is to solace uneasy consciences which are already laden with guilt. By finding others who apparently are more evil than we, we falsely believe that we are somehow better "than the rest of men" (Luke 18:11). It used to be that the most popular biographies were stories about the lives of good men and women worthy of our imitation, rather than the recounting of scandals for the sake of making us believe we are more virtuous than we really are. The pagan Plutarch said: "The virtues of great men served me as a modern mirror in which I might adorn my own life."
Fulton Sheen Finding True Happiness pp. 35-36
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Living In The Light
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son …”
A true gift is given out of love with no strings attached. The receiver may either accept it with joy, hugging or kissing the giver, or disregard its value and reject it, perhaps ignoring the giver. Jesus compares himself to a gift given to humanity by his Father, who gives us his only-begotten Son so that we may have eternal life through him. The Father offers us his unconditional love. As a loving Father, he only wants the best for us, and he offers this great gift to all. Will we accept this offer and open our hearts to his love? Or will we refuse to accept him and turn away from his love? Will we live in the light or walk in darkness?
Jesus is the light of the world. It is easier and safer to travel during the day than at night, because street signs and landmarks are visible. But at night, even where there are streetlights, it’s easier to make a wrong turn or miss an exit on the highway. Dangers may lurk on lonely roads. In a similar way, we can live in spiritual light or spiritual darkness. If we choose darkness, we will see neither our slavery to sin nor our need for God’s merciful love. Or we can choose to travel on the path illumined by Christ, the Light of Life. We can choose light over darkness, life over death. We believe in Jesus because we see him as the Truth. We can accept his love and live in the truth, the truth that makes us free. By loving Jesus in return we live the truth. The more we live in Christ, the Light, the more our works “may be clearly seen as done in God.”
Jesus, my risen Savior, I thank you for proving your love by giving your life for me through your passion and death. I praise you for raising me up to new life, and giving me the promise of living eternally with you, through your resurrection. In the sacraments you continually give of yourself so that I may have the wisdom, strength, and desire to love you in return by offering my life for others. May I never reject your gift of love but always keep my heart open, so that your light may shine through me and my “works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light …”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 26–27). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
No One Is Beyond God's Mercy
In essence, Jesus told his dinner host, a Pharisee named Simon, that this woman’s act of love, gratitude, and devotion far surpassed his meager attempts at hospitality. So let’s look at her example to see what we can learn about the kind of devotion that both pleases the Lord and lifts us up to his presence.
First, we can say that prayer is for sinners. According to Simon, this woman was a hopelessly incurable sinner unworthy of God’s forgiveness. But she shows that those who see their sin and their need are the ones most likely to turn to the Lord for healing and forgiveness. They are also more likely to shower him with praise and worship in response to his mercy. In contrast, people like Simon, those who underestimate their need for mercy, also fail to recognize the value of the Savior.
Second, we can say that prayer is an act of humility. The woman knelt at Jesus’ feet and gave him a gift of precious ointment. She was humble enough to interrupt a formal dinner party so that she could worship Jesus. She knew she had received a tremendous gift, and she didn’t let her pride stand in the way of thanking Jesus for his love.
Third, prayer is primarily about Jesus, not us. The woman didn’t come with a list of her needs and petitions. She didn’t come ready to debate issues of theology or philosophy. She came just to be in Jesus’ presence and to offer him her worship. All she wanted to do was to spend time with Jesus—to pour her life out to him in worship and thanksgiving. She didn’t even care if Simon and his friends tried to throw her out. She was preoccupied with one thing—Jesus—and she would not be denied her chance to worship him.
May we all run to the Lord as this woman did!
“Jesus, you are worthy of my whole life. Here I am, Lord. I come before you to worship you and to pour myself out in praise and surrender to you.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us — September 20, 2012 (www.wau.org)
Monday, April 9, 2018
The Annunciation & Christian SacrificeChristian sacrifice does not consist in a giving of what God would not have without us but in our becoming totally receptive and letting ourselves be completely taken over by him. Letting God act on us—that is Christian sacrifice.
Ratzinger, J. (2004). Introduction to Christianity (Revised Edition). (J. R. Foster, Trans.) (p. 283). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Divine Mercy — Something Worth Talking About!
“My child, you are My delight, you are the comfort of My Heart. I grant you as many graces as you can hold. As often as you want to make Me happy, speak to the world about My great and unfathomable mercy.”
St. Faustina — Diary #164
Saturday, April 7, 2018
The Resurrection Challenges Us To Break Out!
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.
The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions, and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?
He is not here... he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.
Pope Francis —excerpt from Homily of the Easter Vigil, March 31, 2018
Friday, April 6, 2018
Love Increases The More It Is Given
But then something remarkable happens. When the disciples return Jesus does not need their fish. He has already prepared breakfast, and now invites the disciples to eat it; he is the host who provides them with food. The gift is mysterious but nevertheless not hard to decipher. The bread is he himself: I am the bread of life. He is the grain of wheat that dies and now bears fruit a hundredfold and is abundant for everyone until the end of time. His cross on which he gave himself is the miraculous multiplication of loaves, the divine overcoming of the attempt by the devil to catch people with bread and dramatics. Only love can bring about the true multiplication of bread. Material gifts, what is quantitative, always diminish through being divided.
Love however increases the more it gives itself. Jesus is the bread, and he is also the fish that for our sake has gone down into the water of death to look for us there and to find us. This is the lesson of the breakfast to which Jesus invites his own on the borderline of time and eternity, the Eucharist. Come and eat, he says to us and thus enables us already to cross the boundary of time and death.
Pope Benedict XVI (from the Daily Reflection from the Magnificat)
Thursday, April 5, 2018
God's Amazing Love
Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me. This is the great truth that consoles us. Jesus shows his love by giving his life. He loves each of us as if each one were the sole object of his affections. We should meditate often on this truth: God loves me. This surpasses the most improbable expectations of the human heart. No one — without divine Revelation — would dare to guess at or acknowledge this sublime vocation to which each and every person is called: to be God's son or daughter, called to live a close relationship as a friend, to participate in the very Life of the three divine Persons. Considered with earthbound eyes, it seems a dream, or scarcely credible, but it is the truth, the great truth that should move us to correspond.
Jesus never stops loving us, helping us, protecting us, talking to us, not even in our moments of sheer ingratitude, or after we have committed the greatest disloyalty. Perhaps it was during such sad circumstances that our Lord has been most attentive to us, as today's parable suggests. Among the hundred sheep in the flock, only the one that was lost had the honour of resting on the good shepherd's shoulders. I will be with you always, in each situation, at every moment, our Lord tells us. And especially when we begin that final journey towards him.
Certain that our Lord is close to us, we should be moved to begin and begin again in the interior struggle, without being disheartened by the negative experience of our defects and sins. Every moment we live is unique, and therefore provides a good opportunity to begin again, because - as we read in the book of Deuteronomy - the Lord will go before you. He will be with you: He will not leave you or abandon you. Do not fear or be cowardly.
For many centuries the Church had placed on the lips of priests and faithful, at the beginning of the Mass, the words of the Psalm 42:4: "I will go to the altar of God, of God who gives joy to my youth." These words were repeated when the priests and people were young, and when they had long since passed the years of their maturity. They are the cry of the soul going straight to Christ, who knows he is loved and desires love.
God loves me. And John the apostle writes, 'Let us love God, then, since God loved us first'. As if this were not enough, Jesus comes to each one of us, in spite of our patent wretchedness, to ask us, as He asked Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?'
This is the moment to reply: 'Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you!' adding, with humility, 'Help me to love you more. Increase my love!' These are aspirations that can serve us today. They will bring us closer to Christ. He awaits our correspondence with him.
from In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez pp. 361-362
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Every genuine Christian cannot help but be transformed by the Easter event. All is changed: darkness to light, doubt to faith, selfishness to generosity, despair to hope, sin to grace, and death to eternal life.
Easter should have profound ramifications on our outlook and attitude, our disposition and demeanor. How can a person be both a Christian and frowning, grumpy, pessimistic, sour, disagreeable, or negative? They cannot! These features are like oil and water. They simply do not mix. Easter Christians are just the opposite: smiling, cheerful, optimistic, upbeat, happy, agreeable, and positive.
People can tell rather quickly whether someone is an Easter person or not. We all “give off vibes,” “send out signals.” Easter people radiate genuine positive energy, and in doing so, bear witness to the reality of the resurrection.
While Easter happens on one Sunday of the year, we are called to be Easter people all of the time: in Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, and Ordinary Time too. For Christians, every day is Easter! Every day is a day to be joyful! Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), a trademark of the authentic Christian. Jesus said, “People will know that you are my disciples by your love” (Jn 13:35). Upon his rising Jesus could have easily also said, “People will know you are my disciples by your joy.”
Fr. Michael Van Sloun
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Monday, April 2, 2018
Easter Is All About Rekindling Enthusiasm!
“Say, ‘his disciples came by night and stole him.’ ”
The religious authorities didn’t know what to make of Jesus’ disappearance, and wanted to squelch any rumors at the outset. So they came up with a tale about theft. People would buy it, they thought.
And people did buy it. The story was still circulating when Matthew’s Gospel reached its final edit, several decades later. A deep gulf had been dredged between people who passionately believed in the resurrection of Jesus and others who emphatically did not. Our world today is both similar to that world and different from it. The gulf is present, but seldom mentioned. There is little evidence of passionate belief.
Why does the somber season of Lent come so naturally, while the joyous season of Easter seems so challenging? By way of an answer, how often do we think of Easter, once the feast itself has passed?
In some cultures, people used to (and may still do) greet one another during the Easter season with these words:
“Christ has risen!”
“He has risen indeed!”
This beautiful greeting was a reminder of the great mystery they had just celebrated. We can carry these words in our hearts and, after greeting others in our usual way, repeat them in the depths of our soul. May they echo within us throughout the day! In remembering and reflecting on the overwhelming love that God has shown us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can become—as Saint Augustine expressed it—alleluias from head to foot.
Christ has risen—he has risen indeed!
Lord Jesus, I believe! But rekindle my enthusiasm. Don’t let the skepticism of our secular culture cloud my belief or dampen my joy. You are the Faithful One, living and true. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You are the Resurrection and the Life. You are the Savior of the world. Increase my Easter joy. Let the overwhelming reality of your resurrection illumine my path, guiding me through the obscurity of earthly life to the brightness of eternity.
I want to really live this Easter season!
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 8–9). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.